Master of Arts
Department or Program
Politicians and prison officials are under increasing pressure to set policy for housing and treatment for transgender prison inmates. Despite this common need, only a handful of states have adopted a formal written prison policy that addresses transgender inmates. Furthermore, there has been little academic research on this subject. This paper seeks to determine how and why some states develop policies while others do not. Specifically, the research questions include: What are the state-level political conditions that lead to transgender policy regimes? Moreover, will these be the same conditions that are necessary for a positive outcome of transgender prison policies? A transgender policy regime refers to a set of favorable transgender policies, not including prison policies. Transgender prison policies are formal and written prison policies that address transgender inmates. This distinction is important because prisons may not be vulnerable to standard forms of political pressure and may require a unique set of conditions to arrive at policies that benefit marginalized persons. To answer these questions I use Political Mediation theory with draws from three broad theoretical themes: resource mobilization and strategies, political opportunity structure, and cultural opportunity. In addition to these theoretical themes, I explore the role of litigation, specifically, legal precedent. In contrast to other scholarship that attempts to explain political outcomes with just one of these perspectives, I use fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to demonstrate that there are multiple, distinct pathways to arrive at a political outcome. This paper can provide social movement scholars insight to the processes behind policy adoption, and how it is shaped by social movement activity that is mediated through political and cultural opportunities, as well as the role of litigation, particularly for the adoption of policies that address the issues of underrepresented and marginalized persons, such as transgender inmates.